Chucked into Wild new role

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Wearing the same number as Flames captain -- and former teammate -- Jarome Iginla, Chuck Kobasew says it's just a coincidence.

He took it at after being dealt along with Andrew Ference from the Flames to the history-rich Boston Bruins in 2006-07.

"When I went to Boston, I think (numbers) one through nine were retired," Kobasew, now a Minnesota Wild forward, said with a laugh.

"Someone had 10 and 11, so I get 12."

When he was sent to the Wild just seven games into this season -- in exchange for Craig Weller, the rights to prospect Alexander Fallstrom and a 2011 second-round pick -- that same number was stitched to the back of his new jersey.

"I showed up and that's what was in my stall," Kobasew said.

Despite the fact Kobasew impressed with his second career hat-trick in his 13th game with the Wild last month, head coach Todd Richards doesn't expect the winger to score like Iginla.

He does plenty of other things the new bench boss of the ex-trap team needs to see as the Wild try to evolve into feisty forecheckers.

"Chuck's been a great addition for us. He makes our team faster -- very good skater," Richards said.

"He's a guy who's very willing to do really some of the unglorious things that you don't get a lot of credit for. He had a hat-trick for us earlier in the year, so he can finish. He can do those things, but he provides a little bit of grit."

Scoring 21 goals and a career best 42 points for the Bruins last year, Kobasew was stunned to discover he'd be on the move again.

"In Boston, we were off to a slow start. Minnesota was off to a slow start, so I'm sure both teams were looking to make some changes," said Kobasew.

Under former Sharks assistant Richards, the expectation is to attack with structure. But he says it's not a drastic change.

"There's only so much you can do with hockey," Richards said. "To me it's just a little bit more of the mentality of getting guys to go after pucks. Just trying to be more aggressive. When you don't have the puck, let's go get it instead of sitting back and waiting for it."

After a 3-9 start to the season, the Wild went 11-4-3 prior to last night.

"We're doing better now, but I wouldn't take too much credit for that," Kobasew said with a grin. "We're starting to get more comfortable."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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